From an East African orphanage to a New York girls club, this model's acing philanthropy.

When model Herieth Paul describes her stunning hometown of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, it's almost as if she's describing a dreamland.

"It's literally the most beautiful place in the world," she says, with a huge smile. "It's so warm and the air is so crisp and it smells like — do you know the smell after it rains? … The sun rays just kiss my skin. And the ocean water is so clear; it's so blue."

But then again, so much of her life sounds like a dream. At the age of 22, she's an "It girl" who's in high demand in the fashion industry.


She travels the world for fashion shows and models for industry icons including Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli, and Tom Ford. She has also quickly earned comparisons to the likes of superstars Grace Jones and Naomi Campbell.  Her signature hairstyle, a short afro, helps her embrace her natural beauty, rather than feeling like she's pretending to be someone else.

And that's a powerful feeling, since Herieth never wants to forget about Tanzania and the people there who helped her become the person she is today.

Herieth Paul in New York City. Image via Upworthy.

"Is this a dream? I still can't believe it," she gushes, regarding her blossoming career.

In fact, when she turned 18, Herieth accomplished one of her biggest modeling goals.

"I've always wanted to be a Maybelline girl," she says. She even remembers writing "Maybelline" on a piece of paper and putting it on the wall of her very first New York apartment before she had any other artwork.

So she could hardly believe it when her modeling agency told her the good news: Maybelline had asked her to be their spokesmodel.

But now that she's in the spotlight, Herieth wants to use her success to help other girls reach their goals.

Growing up as a shy girl in East Africa, she never expected to grace the pages of the world's magazines, but she always knew that she'd want to help lift up her community in any way she could. That's because it's not only the gorgeous scenery that makes her love where she came from — it's also the people of Tanzania, who inspire her to give back.

For example, her mother helps run a Tanzanian orphanage, Sachia Society, where Herieth volunteered as a young girl. It was an activity that helped teach her the value of compassion.

"I've learned to respect others," she explains. "Just being able to say … you come from a different upbringing but, you know, we can still get along, can still be friends."

And it was this compassion that ultimately inspired her to give back to people who don't have opportunities like the ones she had.

After all, Herieth knows she wouldn't be where she is today without a little luck and other people's helping hands. At 14, her mom signed her up to audition for a Canadian acting and modeling agency, which Herieth hoped would help her become an actress like the kids she saw on the Disney Channel.

Because she was shy, soft-spoken, and not yet fluent in English, she stumbled through her audition. Fortunately, the agency still saw her potential and gave her a chance to model instead of act.

Before that, she says, "I never thought modeling was an option."

Image via Upworthy.

That's why, throughout her entire career, she has continued to support the Tanzanian children back at Sachia Society in order to hopefully open doors for them and expand their horizons through education. She sends money from each of her paychecks to help them pay for things like electricity, food, and books.

"The amount of joy it brings the girls and the boys at the orphanage — it's better than anything you can imagine," she says. "The feeling of being able to give back to my own people in my own country just makes me feel so happy."

In addition to her philanthropic work back in Tanzania, Herieth also shows up for kids in New York City.

She helps mentor girls with the Lower East Side Girls Club, an organization that offers young women free programs in leadership, entrepreneurship, arts and sciences, and more.

"There's so much to be said about being a support system," she says.

Herieth volunteering at Lower East Side Girls Club. Image via Upworthy.

She loves the chance to ask the girls how they're doing so they know that somebody cares, and she likes encouraging them to believe in themselves just as much as she believes in them.

After all, if she hadn't believed in herself, the shy girl from Tanzania wouldn't have become the role model she is today.

Herieth believes everyone deserves to celebrate their own unique beauty.

She glows from the inside out as she discusses what it takes to believe in yourself in spite of the obstacles in front of you.

Image via Upworthy.

"Every time I feel like I have low self-esteem, I try to think, you're here for a reason and you're meant to be here," she says. And that's exactly the message she wants to pass on.

Perhaps growing up in a place that seems like a dreamland helped her realize that children's beautiful dreams can become reality.  

"I see beauty everywhere," she says. "Every time I travel … I see beautiful people, but not because of how they look, but with their hearts and their beautiful minds. I feel like beauty is just the energy that you give out into the world."

For more on Herieth's work giving back to others, check out this video:

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

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Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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